The Miracle Of Pope John Paul II
More than a million people attended the beatification mass of Pope John Paul II in Rome last Sunday. At a ceremony celebrated by over 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, Pope Benedict XVI - the current reigning Pope, conferred the title “Blessed” on his predecessor. October 22nd has been declared the feast of Pope John Paul.
Pope John Paul II
Born in Poland as Karol Wojtyla, Blessed Pope John Paul II was the Pope - pontiff or Supreme leader, of the Catholic Church from Oct 1978 till his death in April 2005. He had a difficult childhood and lost all his family members by age 12. He survived Nazi occupation and pursued his study in a secret seminary.
John Paul II was one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century and the second longest reigning Pope. Among the many things he was known for, it is widely held that he was instrumental in ending communism in his native Poland and eventually all of Europe. He significantly improved the relationship of the Church with Judaism, Islam and Eastern Orthodox religions. He had visited over 129 countries during his reign, was familiar in over 13 languages and has beatified a record 1340 people and canonized 483 saints during his papacy.
The path to “sainthood”
Many of the world's religions bestow special status on people who demonstrate a life of almost perfect virtue. The Catholic Church calls them saints and believes that they lived a holy life and are already in heaven. Saints are considered role models for people still on earth, and are capable of communicating with God on someone’s behalf when a request for help is made in prayer.
For centuries, saints were chosen through public opinion. In the 10th century, Pope John XV developed an official process of sainthood called Canonization. After the death of a person, a candidate’s life and writings are investigated by the local church for evidence of heroic values. Cardinals and theologians at Vatican evaluate the evidence and if satisfied, they proclaim the person “Venerable” or a role model of catholic values.
If there is proof of miracle after the person has passed away, he (or she) is beatified and earns the title of “Blessed”. To be ordained a Saint, there must be proof of one more miracle. The process of becoming a Catholic saint is lengthy, often taking decades or centuries to complete. The present Pope Benedict XVI has put the process of beatification of Pope John Paul II on a fast track -- it takes usually five years before a person can even be considered.
What was the miracle that led to beatification? A French nun suffering from Parkinson's disease prayed to Pope John Paul II, who himself had suffered from the disease when he was alive. In 2007 Sister Marie Simon-Pierre could barely move her left side, could not write legibly, drive or move around easily and was in constant pain. She meditated on Pope John Paul II, and one fine morning, woke up miraculously cured.
With one more miracle, the Pope would be on his way to sainthood. Many have come forward and the church is looking into the claims.